7 Steps to Setting Meaningful Goals

Goal Setting

Have you ever created a SMART goal? I have. I really hate them. I don't get them. Supposedly they are supposed to be simple, but I find myself just unmotivated when I hear SMART goals. Maybe it's that they're too rigid and uninspiring.

Below are seven ways that write goals that in my opinion are more inspiring and achievable.

1. Choose a focus word for the year.

Every year make a point of choosing a focus word. This word will inspire you to take action on your goals. You can write this word big on a post-it note where you can see it all the time. Another option is to get your focus word on a piece of jewelry that you can wear and always be reminded of your goals for that year.

2. Visualize your life after completing the goal.

What will your life look like once you achieved your goal? Will you have more freedom, will you have more energy to be with your family, what will life be like? When you see yourself in a different light, you suddenly become more motivated to work for your goals and take the correct steps to achieve them.

3. Write down your values.

Joe vitale quote

What are your values? Values are beliefs that do not change over time. (Although, they might change if you've adopted a new set of beliefs.) They are the foundation for why you do the things that you do. These values are a part of your identity. It's always good to have your values displayed in your home somewhere.

4. Write down your priorities.

What are your priorities? Priorities are those things or people that are the most important to you at the moment. Your priorities do change over time with the different seasons in your life.

5. Write down every dream small or big that's in your heart.

What are your dreams? Write them all down. These dreams could be like your bucket list. However, the point of writing them down is to make them into a reality. What are you going to do to make these dreams come true?

6. Write down how you'll feel if you let your fears get in the way of your dreams.

How will you feel if you never achieve these dreams? Will you be full of regret? Will you be full of bitterness when you see someone else make their dreams come true? It's never good to let your fears get in the way of your dreams. Take the steps you need to take to make them into a reality.

7. Write down your goals as if you've already achieved them.

Write your goals in the present tense. For example, "I am an author," "I am a business owner." These statements will help clarify your dreams and see if this is something you really want to achieve now, later or never.

When you apply this goal setting strategy, you'll see how much easier it is to make your dreams into goals, and your goals into a reality.

Watch the video below where I discuss more on the subject.

5 Ways to Create Space in Your Life

Hi Friend!

This week I worked on creating space in my life by eliminating activities that are not fulfilling me. There are still activities that I'm on the fence about but I will figure them out in time. I'm creating space in my life because I want to spend quality time with my daughters. It's true that I'm a stay at home mom, but there is always something to do around the house. I feel bad because the whole point of me staying at home was to spend quality time with my girls and yet I'm preoccupied with other things.

So this year, I'm making a point of spending time to play with them, learning with them, as well as working out at home and drinking a superfoods drink every day. You see, if I don't take care of myself, I won't have the energy or strength I need to take care of my girls and family. Spending time with my girls is a lot of fun and it's those moments that help us bond and grow together. It's not just about me being at home.

This week I want to share with you five ways to create space in your life. When you create space in your life, you're able to relax more and spend time with those that you love.

We live in a hectic world, and it's up to us to make our lives more busy or calmer. We can add more activities to our lives that will make us busier, or we can remove things from our schedule and have time to spend with our family and friends.

However, if your goal is to be calmer this year and to spend more quality time with your family, then please read the following ways to do so.

1. Remove Activities from Your Schedule

We can overload ourselves with activities and projects to do. We can be more involved with extracurricular classes or committees. However, all this does is make us more stressed and tired. There is only so much time in the day to do all the things we want to do, and we can't do it all. The best way to solve this problem is to see what activities fulfill you. Which ones add to your life and which ones you dread. Those that you dread, you want to remove from your schedule and make space for something that you do love to do.

2. Remove Apps from your Phone

Our phones contain a lot of space that we can fill with unnecessary apps that don't fulfill us and instead take up room. Remove all of those apps that don't serve you and leave the ones that do.

3. Remove Contacts from your Phone

Remove contacts that you don't talk to anymore. Those contacts take up space in your phone and your mind. It's time to remove them and make room for those people that we want to create better relationships with.

4. Remove Podcasts from your phone

Delete podcasts that don't serve you. There are so many amazing podcasts out there, but we don't have the bandwidth to absorb all of the excellent information out there. Decide to have no more than five podcasts to listen to and no more. I know how hard this can be, but it's worth removing the number of podcasts we hear to so that we can listen to more music or the conversations of our loved ones.

5. Close Social Media Accounts

This one may be hard to do but, it may also be necessary. Close social media accounts that don't serve you. You know, the ones that you stress about opening up because you're afraid of what you're going to see. Those accounts need to be closed because they are bringing you more anxiety than not. Remove people that you're following that bring you stress. You don't need that kind of energy in your life.

These are the five items to remove from your life to make your life more fulfilled and joyful. Let me know what things will be removed from your life so that you have more time for your loved ones.

Watch the video below, where I explain more.

5 Phases of Decluttering

The day after Christmas up to New Year's Eve and Spring break, I love to declutter. It's one of my most favorite things I love to do! The reason is that I believe and feel that when I decluttering, I'm like starting all over. I have a chance to make new and better decisions. Once I'm finished decluttering, it's like my mind is clear and now I can sit down and make new goals and rituals. It's seriously really cool and fun.

Decluttering is no easy task, and I'm sure many would not find it as exciting as I do. There's a lot of emotion that can go into decluttering. Not everyone is as into getting rid of things. For that reason, I want to discuss the three phases of decluttering.

PHASE 1: The Decluttering Mindset

decluttering affirmation

To get into the right mindset we want to start with not comparing what we have with what others have. It doesn't matter if someone has more than I do. The point of getting rid of unnecessary things is to create a calm environment. We don't need to justify why we're getting rid of certain items and we shouldn't pressure someone to get rid of their things (this is something I need to work on).

PHASE 2: Look at the Costs of Clutter

When you have too much stuff you would be surprised as to how it affects your emotions. Here are just five of the costs of clutter...but there are a lot more.

  • Clutter causes frustration.

  • Clutter causes embarrassment.

  • Clutter makes you waste time looking for things.

  • Clutter makes it harder to keep a clean home.

  • Clutter can be dangerous! Just think about tripping over things on the floor or things spilling out of your cabinets.

PHASE 2: Look at the Benefits of Decluttering

On the other hand, there are so many benefits of having less stuff. I'm going to list just five of those things, but there are a lot more.

  • Decluttering makes more space to be enjoyed.

  • Decluttering makes cleaning your home easier and faster.

  • Decluttering your home and making space is safer.

  • Decluttering saves you money when you see what you already have and what you doing need to purchase.

  • Decluttering teaches your children good habits.

PHASE 4: Decluttering Process

First, schedule a day, weekend or week to declutter. I told you I declutter the week between Christmas and New Year's and again during Spring Break. Depending on how often you need to declutter, I don't always declutter my entire home, but sometimes it's necessary.

Begin with a room that is really bothering you. I started this year with my girl's playroom. They just had too many things and I needed to make room for the new toys. Once I finished with the playroom, I moved on to the kitchen, then our closet, and then the office.

PHASE 5: What to do with everything

Once you've finished your decluttering project, figure out what to do with all of your things. I personally donate it most of it and sell my books, CDs, and DVDs to a company called sellyourbooks.com They make it really easy to remove your clutter and make a little bit of money in the process. You can also give some items to your friends, nieces, nephews or whoever you want to give your items to.

Anyway, I hope you've learned a thing or two on decluttering. Have a home with space reduces so much anxiety and stress that you will enjoy decluttering from here on out. I mean I even declutter when I'm stressed because it helps relieve it.

Watch the video below to get more insight.

Let me know if you plan to declutter this week!

How to Live Simply & Happy

Live Simply & Happy

I have a tendency to get easily overwhelmed. I don't know what it is, but when I start to do too much or I find that I have a lot to do with very little time, I begin to stress out. I really don't like that feeling. The stress builds up and then I become anxious and then I become short and unpleasant with my family. I really hate the feeling. I feel like I'm not the nicest person to be around when I'm stressed out due to the overwhelm. 

The way I work with this is that I reduce what I have in my home and on my schedule. I don't participate in a lot of activities and I also make a point of not being in charge of too many things because I become stressed and I don't perform my duties well. Reducing both the amount of things I have in my home and the amount of activities I or my children participate in, is key to me being calm, present, and happy. I simplify my life, so that I may be happy and pleasant to be around. 

The tagline of Natural Beauty Method is Live Simply & Happy because this is the life that I want all women, including myself and my daughters, to have. Living a simple and happy life makes the world so much more beautiful and enjoyable. The question is how to live such a life. I come up with three pillars to living a simple and happy life.

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Pillar #1: Embrace Calm

When you embrace calm, you are able to live presently. This includes decluttering and removing all things that are not necessary to have in order to create space. When you create space, you can breathe easier. Removing all activities from your schedule that doesn't fulfill you. Practicing gratitude on a daily basis and remembering that life is about Grace Not Perfection.

Pillar #2: Practice Self-Care

Self-care is so much more than me time. It's eating well, making time to exercise, sleeping and using safer beauty products. When you put in place all of these habits, your hormones become balanced, you become less stressed, which in turn makes you happier.

Pillar #3: Live Confidently

Use daily affirmations to help change your mindset to a positive one. Stop comparing yourself with others but instead celebrate their success. Learn to speak kindly to yourself and stop the self-abuse of speaking so harshly to yourself.

When you put all of these practices into play, you're going to see how calm and satisfying your life will be. Life has tough moments, but it's up to us to make it beautiful.

Watch the short 10 minute video below where I explain even more.

What are you doing to simplify your life so that you can be happier? Let me know in the comments below!

Live Simply & Happy,

Mirley

3 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

Hi Friend!

I just wanted to tell you that happiness is a choice. However, it is true that there are moments in our lives when it is difficult to be happy. That said, there are ways to boost your happiness even during difficult times.

  1. Make Peace With Your Past

Many of us have made decisions in our past that we're not pleased with. Some of the best ways to combat those feelings are to look at what you learned from the experience. What did you learn about yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses? What brings you joy and sadness?

2. Practice Daily Gratitude

Giving thanks daily is a wonderful way to boost your happiness. It forces you to focus on the good you have in life. It forces you to stay present and enjoy life more. Even when you look at those points in life that were not so happy, make a point of seeing what good came out of those moments. Giving thanks for your days will brighten up your life.

3. Don't Compare Yourself With Others

Comparison is a big issue in our society mainly due to social media. Rather than comparing yourself with others, try and celebrate their accomplishments. If someone's post is continuously bothering you, you may want to either mute them or just unfollow them. It's not worth ruining your day over.

Audrey Hepburn "Happy Girls are the prettiest."

One of my favorite classic icons is Audrey Hepburn. I love her timeless style and her kind heart. She loved to eat pasta and was very humble. I named my first born after her.

“Happy girls are the prettiest,” is one of my all-time favorite Audrey Hepburn quotes. It says so much. If we smile and are truly happy, somehow we are just more attractive and confident in ourselves. 

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Live Happy Challenge

Choose one of the topics to focus on and change. If you need to make peace with your past, in a notebook write down what you learned from it. If you need to be more thankful, in a journal write down 3 things you're grateful for. If you need to stop comparing yourself with others, learn to celebrate others successes or just unfollow those people that make you miserable.

Watch the video below where I explain more on the subject.

Live Simply & Happy,

Mirley

Speaking with Confidence

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Confidence is something I've always struggled with. I am confident in small circles but have a hard time in larger ones. Mainly because I have very strong opinions. My opinions are not always popular ones but they are mine nonetheless and I'm more than willing to change them if I see that I'm wrong.

However, we live in a world where our opinions need to be the popular ones...and if not, we might be shunned. This pressure to think and speak a certain has definitely altered my confidence because I want to be liked.

That said, the issue isn't about being liked. It's about having the courage to speak your mind and having the courage to listen to others perspectives as well. You don't have to agree with what they say, just listen and give your response if necessary.

When you speak out, your confidence grows. Not everyone will like your opinion and that's okay. Speaking out will give you confidence and strength.

How to Simplify Your Life

Hi Friend!

We live in a very busy world. There’s a lot of noise and distractions pulling us in so many directions. All of these things are keeping us from being present for the people who need us most…not to mention it’s also causing us stress!

I love to learn and easily get caught up in the noise and business of life. It’s so much fun for me to learn, but it’s really hard for me to keep up with everyone’s suggestions. Not to mention, that I can’t apply them all and it’s too difficult for me to keep up!

Emily Ley Quote

The fact is that possessions may actually control you more than you think. Of course we want to enjoy what we have. Possessions don’t have eternal value so it’s healthy to give items we’re not using away or just throw them away. I personally love to give things away or just throw them away. If I believe someone can get more use out of the item, then I give it to them, if not, then I just toss it.

How do I solve the problem of too much? I declutter! However, decluttering isn’t just about throwing things away in the home that you don’t need. It’s about simplifying who you’re listening to. How many podcasts do you listen to? How many YouTube videos do you watch? All of that noise is building up stress and it’s really important that you remove unnecessary noise from your life.

Once I started eliminating the unnecessary programs that I listen to, I'm able to listen to music. I am able to be more present for my daughters and husband. And this makes me happier and calmer.

What does clutter do to you?

  • Stresses you out

  • Keeps you tired

  • Confuses you as to where to begin

  • Overwhelms you

  • Blocks your ability to move forward

  • Limits God from showing the way

What should I get rid of?

  • Workout videos you don't use

  • Workout equipment

  • Cancel your gym membership and use the workout videos

  • Fitness magazines

  • Recipe books

Take the Clutter Test

  • Does it fit who I am?

  • Do I get excited when I look at it?

  • Do I love it?

  • Is it useful?

  • Is it necessary?

What do I do with my old stuff?

  • Donate it

  • Sell it online (There are many sites like Amazon, Ebay, Criag's List and more)

  • Save it and use it!

What does decluttering do for me?

  • Makes me feel light

  • Allows me to breathe

  • Allows me to make clear decisions

  • Forces me to get back on track

I hope this helps you. Let me know of all the things you got rid of.

Watch the video below where I explain more on the subject.

What do you have to eliminate from your life to make it more simple? Let me know in the comments below.

Live Simply & Happy,

Mirley

How to lose weight the healthy way

A number of years ago I learned about a woman who wanted to feel confident and beautiful. She went through a procedure to shrink her stomach and a couple of years later do the mommy makeover (tummy tuck and boob job). Sadly, five days after her second procedure she passed away from a blood clot.

While not all women who undergo the Mommy Makeovers have this fatal outcome, the risk still exists. The pressure of looking "perfect" so we can feel beautiful is so intense that many of us are willing taking shortcuts without taking the risks into consideration.

Healthy looks different on everybody. It even looks different during different stages of our lives. My healthy body now does not look the same or even weigh the same as my healthy body from 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. Our body's healthy weight changes over the years. With that change comes a different perspective on how we love our bodies. We cannot realistically expect our bodies to be the same throughout our lives because it does change through the years. I believe we must strive for better health and appreciation of our bodies and NOT try and look "perfect".

We must remember that our actions are also teaching our children what the standard of beauty is. We must first accept where we are in our health journey. If we feel the need to change it, we must do it in a healthy way. This means by eating healthy daily, exercising, practicing self-love and speaking kindly to ourselves.

Rather than feel that we must alter our bodies let's embrace a new kind of beauty standard. A natural beauty standard that is different for everyone. Remember, healthy looks different on everyone. This even changed me and made me realize the pressure that we put on ourselves to be a certain size quickly is ridiculous. Taking short-cuts isn't the answer. We must make positive changes while embracing our natural beauty and body shape.

How I lost weight the healthy way

I am a mother to two beautiful young girls ages 3 and 1. After giving birth to my first daughter, my hips did not go down back to their original size. I honestly believed that that was as wide as they were going to get and I was happy because I liked having wider hips. Although I was still thin, I was happy of my new body. After I gave birth to my second daughter, my body changed once again. I have a larger chest size and my hips got a little wider (not complaining). 

My hips got wider

It's been really fascinating to see my body change naturally. I still eat healthy and exercise daily and now have a more womanly body. I like that! Of course I have to go shopping for new clothes, which can be expensive but totally fun. 

I'm sharing this with you because there is so much external pressure to go back to your original size after giving birth. And I'm here to tell you that if your body goes back to its original size naturally because you are living a healthy lifestyle, then great! It's in your genes to back to that size. But if you're like me, whose body changed as a result of giving birth and you're living a healthy life too, then wonderful! Not all of us are meant to stay at the same size and shouldn't feel the pressure to do so. 

A number of years ago, I was watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and remember the episode where Kourtney had just given birth to her first born Mason and was asked by a magazine to post her post-baby body. She had 6 months to do it.

The magazine wanted to encourage and motivate women that they too could lose weight fast and get back to their original size. Kourtney workout for hours and did not eat healthy in the process. The result was that she ended being taken to the ER because she passed out from over pushing her body. She of course learned her lesson and with her second child decided to lose weight the healthy way.

I remember watching this episode and really being impacted by it because I honestly felt bad for her. I didn’t have children at the time but I felt the pressure that she had put on herself, as well as society, and the magazine. I remember thinking I would never pressure myself to lose weight quickly because I didn’t want to end up in the ER like her.

Krystal Marks Quote

Now after I gave birth to my first daughter, I was able to lose the weight quickly. I used to be a size 2/4 and after I gave birth I was a well established size 4. However, after giving birth to my second baby, I did not go back to my size and I also did not lose the weight as quickly as the first time.

Nevertheless, I continued to be consistent in eating healthy and exercising. I did change my exercise regiment, which was whatever I felt like doing to actually following a program that gave me results. I’m currently on week 6 in an 8 week program and I’m seeing and feeling the difference. It’s amazing how your body can improve when you’re making the effort to workout. With eating healthy daily and finding a workout program that works for you, you too can lose your pregnancy weight.

I have to conclude by saying that losing weight after giving birth is not a race. It’s a process that is different for all of us. And the results of us eating healthy, exercising, and even the number of children we’ve given birth to will impact our results, which is part of the experience.

Let me know in the comments below if you need extra encouragement and guidance losing weight after giving birth.

How to make a healthy breakfast

An easy, fast and nutritious way to start the day is with a green smoothie. Green smoothies are a blend of leafy greens and fruit that are designed to give you more fiber, vitamins and minerals in a delicious concoction. The fruit are sweet and full of fiber, which helps to remove toxins from your body and help your skin glow (Snyder, 2013). Green smoothies contain up to four servings of greens and three servings of fruit, which according to Dr. Michael Greger (2015), is more than the daily recommendation.

Green smoothies are fast to make in the morning. It is important to alternate the greens and veggies so that each time you make one, you're getting a new delicious flavor and beautiful nutrients entering your body. This simple habit in the morning will help you lose weight, improve your health, get glowing skin, prevent disease, nourish your family, get fit, and feel happier.

Green smoothies give you more energy because you're getting the sugars from the fruit fast into your system giving you a fast pick me up. The leafy greens and fiber help flush out toxins, your skin clears up. It's a great way to combat acne from the inside out. Green smoothies help you focus more due to the high fiber in greens. They help strengthen your immune system and go to the restroom more regularly. This may seem odd to read, but having regular bowel movements is a sign of great health. Finally, green smoothies help you lose weight in a safe and healthy way (Hansard & Sellner, 2015).

There are a couple of options when drinking your green smoothie. Some people only drink a green smoothie in the morning and are satisfied. Others need to eat a small meal along with the green smoothie in order to feel more satisfied.

It is up to you on how you decided to create your meal. Remember to listen to you body and adjust accordingly.

Option 1: Drink a green smoothie alone or complete your breakfast with an entree of your choice. Only add an entree if the green smoothie alone doesn't fill you up.

Option 2: If the green smoothie fills you up, then consider drinking only the green smoothie for breakfast and having oatmeal or a coconut yogurt parfait as a mid-morning snack.

Over time you're going to see how your body craves a green smoothie and this habit will be engrained in you. You won't have to sit and think about what to eat and you will feel more full and satisfied as well.

To get more information, download my FREE eBook and start improving your meals today!

A Cup of Gratitude

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Giving daily thanks has been a game changer for me. It helps me see the beauty in everyday life. I focus on what I have and not what I do not have. This has helped me be happier, and more present. When we're are not present, we tend to focus on the things we want, the things we believe will make us happy. We have so much to be thankful for, that when we don't look at the good, we can never change the bad.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I think its because of all the good food, time for family and friends and a time a joy. Focusing on the good and the blessings you have in life will help you see the world differently. You will be happier and you will learn to be present. The worries tend to fade away with practice. 

Take some time to think about what you're thankful for and make it a habit to give thanks for at least three things every single day. You will see how your life will improve. 

So, I want to share with you what I'm thankful for:

1. A loving husband. 

2. My two beautiful daughters. 

3. My parents, siblings and amazing friends.

4. Getting the opportunity to live in Virginia and meet some of the most amazing people. 

I recently learned about the Gratitude Jar. The purpose of the jar is to give thanks as a family everyday after dinner or at a time when you're all together and then read them on Thanksgiving. 

Giving thanks is a beautiful way of focusing on all the good that happens to us everyday. Even when things are at the darkest learning to give thanks for our blessings helps us to release stress, anger, sadness, depressions, which ages us in an unhealthy way. 

You can either find a pretty jar and use that as your Thanksgiving Jar or find a mason jar and decorate it as you see fit. 

Another tip is make this a family tradition. You can do this every November or you can do this every month. Giving thanks is a great way to live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest. 

EveryGirl Takes Action

Find a jar or decorate a jar and decorate it. Then every night write down what you're thankful for on a piece of paper and read them out loud on Thanksgiving or at the end of month. 

Now it's your turn, what are you thankful for?

I hate going to the gym

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I know, I know…I’m a health coach and fitness coach and I should be more excited about going to the gym…but I’m not. The fact is, is that it’s just such a drag to have to get dressed, then get my girls ready, walk to the gym (I live really close to it) and workout. Going to the gym may interfere with their nap schedule and going to child care isn’t going to guarantee that they’re going to get in their nap.

Beachbody Coach_Mirley

Not to mention that I live on the 2nd floor, by the stairs not the elevator, and have to plan ahead for a possible fit on my way to a gym class. 

When I’m at the gym, I’m not always sure what I’m doing. I mean, I have purchased some programs that allow me to workout in the gym and sometimes I go a class. But every now and then then I have to deal with waiting for people to finish using up the equipment, which can lead to time waisted and that’s is just a huge pet-peeve of mine.

However, I have found a solution to my problem. I workout at home! I love to workout at home because I can do when my girls nap. I have all the weights I need and the workout videos include a warm-up and cool down, which is essential to all workouts! Plus I can do a workout challenge and see the progress I make each time I do the workout.

So, if you also struggle to go to the gym but want to workout with guided videos that include a nutrition plan, comment below and let’s schedule a time to chat! I want to discuss with you all of the amazing options to help you get back on track of your fitness and health.

Exercise Affirmation

5 Ways to Save on Groceries

5 ways to save on groceries

Groceries are expensive. Even when you're eliminating fancy foods, it can still be pretty expensive. The fact of the matter is that we need to eat, so grocery shopping is not an option. And if we're looking for optimal health, food can be a little bit more pricey.

However, we can still save on groceries by implementing 5 habits. These habits will not only save you money, but reduce stress, which is always a plus.

  1. Use Cash: Budget out how much money you're going to spend on groceries per month and place that money in an envelope and paper clip how much you'll need per week. . This is a trick that is taught by Dave Ramsey and is perfect for grocery shopping.

  2. Look for sales: This trick I learned from Ruth Soupkup, author of Living Well Spending Less (2014), where she suggests to look out for grocery store sales. This is perfect if you're not into couponing. What's interesting about sales is that if you pay attention closely, you will see that each grocery store has a sale on different produce or meats per week. So you can avoid store hopping.

  3. Clip Coupons: Couponing helps you save lots of money when you make it a habit and become an expert at it. I'm not saying to become a contestant at TLCs Extreme Couponing show but that there are tricks to this game that can help you save lots of money. You can visit websites like www.coupons.com or collect the weekly circulars and cut out from there. If you spend about 30 minutes a week looking for great deals, you can save up to $40 a week!

  4. Avoid purchasing fancy ingredients: Unless you're going use exotic foods regularly, avoid purchasing them. Those foods are expensive and not always necessary for a healthy life. Also, if you find a recipe that has an ingredient that you know you're only going to use once, substitute it for another ingredient. This will keep your grocery shopping simple, which means more money in your pocket.

  5. Meal Plan & Make a List: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to meal plan and make a list. You will save so much and money when you do so. Keep in mind that you can also have someone else do the shopping for you, if you’re too tempted to shop more than you intended too.

Try out these tips and let me know which tip has worked for you!

Resources:

  1. Ramsey, Dave, and Sharon Ramsey. Financial Peace Revisited. Viking, 2003.

  2. Soupkup, Ruth. Living Well, Spending Less A Dvd Study; 12 Secrets of the Good Life. Zondervan, 2016.

5 Benefits of Laughter

Laughter Brings Me Joy

Do you love to laugh? I personally, love to laugh. In fact, when I say these words, I’m reminded of the song on Mary Poppins, when Uncle Albert sings this song with so much glee.

I recently found a program on TV called the Impractical Jokers. They’re seriously hilarious. I watch their video on YouTube and laugh like 10 minutes a day in the morning. After a while I started noticing how much more relaxed and happy I was to take on the day!

Laughter is good for your health. It makes you healthy and younger too! Have you noticed how people who have joy in their lives smile more and age gracefully? It’s because they have so much to be thankful for. Be ready to find reasons to laugh.

  1. Reduces Stress: Laughing stimulates many organs and brings oxygen into your lungs, and muscles, thus helping reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.

  2. Works Out Your Abs: Have you ever laughed so hard that your abs are sore the next day? Those laughing moments are seriously the best. Turns out that when you’re laughing, you’re activating your abdominal muscles and making them contract and expand.

  3. Laughing is Contagious: Have you ever laughed just because everyone else is laughing but you don’t know why? Turns out that laughing is contagious. The good humor and happiness in the environment makes everyone want to be a part of it. Spread the Joy!

  4. Reduces Pain: Laughing releases endorphins, which is a natural pain killer. Laughing makes your feel good all over and helps you forget your pain.

  5. Improve Your Mood: Laughter is amazing medicine for reducing depression and anxiety. It helps you forget what’s bothering you and helps you look at life with grateful eyes.

Don’t forget to laugh for 10 minutes a day!

References:

  1. LaMeaux, E. (n.d.). 7 Health Benefits of Laughter. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/7-health-benefits-of-laughter#

  2. M. (2016, April 21). Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke. Retrieved October 01, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

How to Plan Your Weekly Meals

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Meal planning is important because it helps support your health goals. When you have a quality meal plan, you're more than likely going to eat healthier. Meal planning also helps you make a quality grocery list that will keep you from going to the grocery store more than once a week. You also waste less food because you aren't just buying whatever looks good at the moment. Finally, meal planning keeps you from wondering what you're going to eat that day, which may in turn lead to eating out. Now that we know the benefits of meal planning, let's talk about how to do it.

1. How to Prepare

Begin by scheduling a time when you will meal plan. Next, check your calendar to see if you have any dinners or lunches coming up during the week. This way you don't purchase extra food for those days. Finally, go through your cookbooks and plan out your meals.

2. Make a Grocery List

It is absolutely important that you make a grocery list to avoid purchasing any ingredients that you don't need. After you've written down all of the recipes that you're planing on making check your refrigerator to see if you have any of those ingredients. It is a waste of money to purchase ingredients that you already have at home. Once you've written down your meals and looked in your refrigerator and pantry, begin writing down your list of groceries.

3. Grocery Shopping

Now that you've meal planned and made you're grocery list, it's time to go shopping! The best part about being prepared is that you only have to shop for groceries once a week. This saves you time, money and energy. This also keeps you from wasting food. Choose to either go grocery shopping yourself or have a delivery company do it for you like Amazon Prime or Shipt. Know yourself, if you know that you spend more going to the store, then have someone else do the shopping for you. It will save you time, money, and keep you accountable.

4. Time to Eat

I love to cook. I love the smell of spices and herbs in the home. Cooking is just wonderful. Set aside 30 minute to 1 hour to make your meals. I make them daily. However, you can make them on Sunday and save them for the week. It's really up to you. Enjoy the process and enjoy your meal!

Once, you make meal planning a habit, it’s easy eat healthy on a daily basis.

What to avoid in sun-care products

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Conventional sunscreens contain one or more of the three major ingredients listed below that are not good for our health.

  1. Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone is linked to allergies, immunotoxicity, and organ system as well as  developmental/reproductive toxicity. 

  2. Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) is linked to biochemical or cellular level changes, cancer and organ system toxicity. 

  3. Added insect repellents: Added insect repellents can be irritating to the skin when the improper ingredients are used.


None of these ingredients are good for you or your health and it is best to use some form of safer sunscreen. In addition to these ingredients, you want to stay away from SPF above 50. That’s more of a marketing tool and not necessary, plus the ingredients to get more than SPF 50 have a tendency to hazardous. Also stay away from powders, since the SPF doesn’t really stick to your skin. Sprays are great, but you want to make sure the SPF is actually on your skin after spraying.

What to Look For in Sunscreens

When purchasing sunscreens look for ingredients like zinc oxide, avobenzone, and mexoryl SX, which are safe and effective to bounce or reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin!

Use creams, broad - spectrum protection, water-resistant, and SPF between 15 and 50. These SPFs will give you the protection you need without hurting your skin.

Some of my favorite sunscreens

There are three sunscreen brands that I like. They’re harmless, some claim to harmless, and they are effective.

  1. Coola: Coola is a mineral and organic suncare brand that specializes in making safe sunscreen. They make suncreens in creams, tinted moisturizers, sprays, and so much more!

  2. Josie Maran Cosmetics: I love Josie’s products and have been using them on and off for 11 years. Seriously, since Josie Maran began her company. She makes two SPF creams, one is a tinted moisturizer and the other is not. Both are SPF 47 and they include UVA/UVB protection and “unique blend of antioxidants, skin-soothers, and hydrators”

  3. Beautycounter: Now I must fully disclaim that I’m a Beautycounter consultant and I love their mission to create safer, better beauty. Beautycounter creates sunscreen that uses Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which actually bounce or reflect off the sun's rays away from the skin! Their sunscreen is mineral based, which is also great for babies and kids. 


Switch to Safer

If you haven’t joined the movement to switch to safer beauty, I invite you today to do so. There are many brands that are fighting to create safer and better beauty products for the whole family. Safer skincare and beauty is better for your health and the health of your family.

Make the Switch today!

xo, Mirley

www.beautycounter.com/mirleygraf

Resources

  1. “Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47.” Josie Maran Cosmetics, 2018, www.josiemarancosmetics.com/collections/bestsellers/products/argan-daily-moisturizer-spf-47-with-sunboost-atb.

  2. “Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – 6.7 Oz.” Beautycounter, 2018, www.beautycounter.com/product/countersun-mineral-sunscreen-lotion-spf-30.

  3. “ EWG’s Guide to Safer Safer Sunscreens Sunscreens Be Safe in the Sun This Summer.” Environmental Working Group, July 2017, www.ewg.org/sunscreen.

  4. “Our Story - Our Ethos - COOLA HQ.” COOLA Suncare, 2018, coolasuncare.com/pages/about.

7 Benefits to Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are a big thing now. So many people are using them as part of their everyday lives. However, there are many more people that are not using them, or using them incorrectly. In addition, there may be others that don't know the benefits of using essential oils. Essential oils are a great addition to your health and wellness lifestyle. 

The benefits of using essential oils are great! Essential oils can improve your life so much even if you eat well and exercise. Essential will add even greater benefits to your healthy lifestyle.

Benefit #1: Improves Sleep

If you're having a hard time getting to sleep at night using essential oils can help. One can add 1 drop of lavender oil along with 1 TSP of a carrier oil and rub it on your tummy because your tummy is one of the most absorbent parts of your body. Of course you can also place up to 5 drops in a diffuser and let it run while your sleep or you can diffuse doTerra's Serenity: Restful Blend oil. Lastly, you can take a detox bath using 1 cup of Epson salts, 1 TBS of jojoba oil and one 2 to 3 drops of Serenity blend. 

Benefit #2: Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a very common part of our society. With so many things to do, so many deadlines, so many interruptions, and not enough time in the day one can get stressed out and with stress, anxiety can build up. In fact, studies have shown that high levels of stress can lead to illnesses like high blood pressure. Essential oils can help keep one calm. There are a variety of oils that can help reduce stress like ylang ylang, neroli, Roman chamomile, orange, and frankincense. You can breathe in the aroma straight from the bottle without applying it, or you can diffuse up to 5 drops from one or more of the essential oils mentioned. You can also diffuse dōTERRA Balance: Grounding blend, which helps you stay calm during moments of tension. 

Benefit #3: Improves Mood & Energy Levels

Essential oils are great for improving your mood. Smell can bring up so many happy memories or allow you to think positive lovely thoughts. Some oils can actually increase oxygen to your brain. Oils to diffuse include bergamont, grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary , and doTerra's Elevation: Joyful Blend. You can also get a massage home using doTerra's AromaTouch® Massage Blend.

Benefit #4: Reduces Brain Fog

Brain fog affects people of all ages. Unfortunately, the food or non-foods, as I call them, that are in our processed foods affect our body chemistry, which aside from leading weight gain it also leads to brain fog, and ADHD. Although one may stop eating such foods, you may still experience brain fog just due to all of the shiny objects around us. Diffusing essential oils while working or applying them to your wrists may help you stay focused. Try diffusing vetiver, peppermint, frankincense or a blend of the oils I just mentioned. You can also apply doTerra's InTune to your wrists to help reduce brain fog. 

Benefit #5: Helps Balance Hormones

Essential oils do not have hormones but they do help balance them. Oils, like clary sage, geranium and thyme, are known to help to balance one's estrogen and progesterone levels. These oils can help improve hormone conditions like infertility, PCOS, PMS and menopause symptoms. In addition, doTERRA® Phytoestrogen Lifetime Complex, which is a supplement made with plant-based phytoestrogens, flax seed extract, and pomegranate extract. The purpose is to work with hormone deficiency or decrease the affect of harmful metabolites or block xenoestrogens. Also, during your menstrual cycle you can use ClaryCalm, which helps ease the pain.

Benefit #6: Improves Skin & Hair Beauty

Adding essential oils to your skincare or purchasing skincare that contains essential oils will improve your skin's texture, reduce acne, reduce signs of aging, and brighten it's appearance. Many conventional skincare products are full of toxic chemicals that can affect our hormones in a negative way. In addition, studies have shown to help one's hair grow. The best oils for your skin and hair include, lavender, Roman chamomile, frankincense, tea tree, geranium, myrrh, helichrysum, rosemary and clary sage. You can also try doTerra's skincare and haircare products. All of which have safe and effective ingredients as well as using their very own essential oils. 

Benefit #7: Reduces Pain

Essential oils are great to reduce minor pains and aches. I personally use peppermint oil on my temples to reduce headaches. You can add the following oils topically lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, majoram, thyme, frankincense, turmeric, ginger and myrrh depending on where the pain is. Make sure that you apply with a carrier oil so that you don't burn your skin. ClaryCalm, for example, is a great ready made blend from doTerra to help reduce menstrual cramps. 

All in all, essential oils are a great addition to your health and wellness. However, I must note that essential oils do not replace eating health and exercising. Essential oils just completes one's wellness journey.

Resources:

  1. Axe, Josh. “101 Essential Oil Uses and Benefits.” Dr. Axe, Dr. Axe, 5 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/essential-oil-uses-benefits/#.
  2. “DoTERRA Serenity | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/p/doterra-serenity-oil.
  3. “Elevation Joyful Blend | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/p/elevation-oil.
  4. “Women's Hormonal Health: Finding Balance | DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA Fact Sheet | DōTERRA Essential Oils, 16 May 2018, www.doterra.com/US/en/brochures-magazines-living-winter-2013-2014-womens-hormonal-health.
  5. Zielinski, Eric. The Healing Power of Essential Oils: Soothe Inflammation, Boost Mood, Prevent Autoimmunity, and Feel Great in Every Way. Harmony Books, 2018.

5 Essential Oils Safety Tips for Children

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We can never be too cautious when using essential oils on children. Essential oils are very potent and safe but nevertheless must be used correctly to avoid any mishaps. Remember that although essential oils are safe, applying it to children needs to be done carefully because they are very delicate. It's best to test one oil at a time every 24 hours. 

Safety Tip #1: Learn How to Dilute Essential Oils

Only apply 1-2 drops of oil diluted with a carrier oil on a child's skin every 24 hours. Make sure you read the label on the oil. Each oil is different. Applying one drop of lavender topically feels very different than applying one drop of oregano. If diffusing essential oils, only diffuse them 20 minutes a day and no more than twice a day.

Safety Tip #2: Do Not Ingest Oils

I personally don't like the idea of ingesting essential oils. They're very potent and can leave your tummy feeling uneasy. I'm an adult and if I feel uneasy, then I know that giving essential oils to your child will cause more harm.

Safety Tip #3: Avoid Sensitive Areas

Remember, a child's body is more sensitive than an adult's body. For this reason, it is important that you avoid applying essential oils around the eyes, broken skin, irritated skin, inner nose and ears. Also, an adult should be the one to apply essential oils.

Safety Tip #4: Beware of Sunlight Sensitivity

Not all oils are meant to be applied topically with the intention of going outside. One must read the labels of all essential oils. Some oils are prone to sunlight sensitivity. Citrus oils have a higher probability of creating sunlight sensitivity when worn outdoors. Some labels will clearly say to stay out of the sun or UV rays for up to 12 hours. 

Safety Tip #5: Keep Your Essential Oils Safely Stored

Essential oils need to be placed in a medicine cabinet or far away from the reach of little ones. Because essential oils are so potent, they should be not be played with or taken internally. It is important that you supervise your older children when applying essential oils and only an adult should apply essential oils to younger children. 

Knowing these five tips will help you use essential oils wisely when applying them to your children or diluting them around your children. Also, remember to ask your doctor if you want to apply essential oils on your child, especially if your child is under 18 months. 

Resources:

  1. https://www.doterra.com/US/en/promotions-class-powerpoints
  2. https://ultimatebundles.com/sale/heo2018-expert-panel-watch/

2 Ways to Use Essential Oils Safely on Children

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Essential oils are aromatic compounds located in various parts of plants like stems, leaves, bark, seeds, flowers, and other parts of plants. They are very potent and can be diffused, applied topically, and some people even will include a drop of food in their meals, drinks or in a capsule. Not to mention that they have very beautiful fragrant. 

When applying or diffusing essential oils around children, one must know how to do so safely. Although essential oils are typically safe, children tend to be more sensitive to them than adults, which is why it's important to know how to apply them safely on children. If one doesn't know how to use essential oils, they can be unsafe even for adults. 

First, use a brand of essential oils that have a reputation of creating high quality, free of contaminants and is safe to use. This requires testing gives us consumers a peace of mind that we are only using the safest products on us and our children. I personally use doTerra Essential Oils and am very happy with that company's commitment to only deliver the best oils to everyone.

Second, when applying essential oils on children use carrier oils. Essential oils evaporate pretty much on contact and may not be as efficient as when using them with a carrier oil. Carrier oils are the base oils. The oils are virtually oder less and are very hydrating. Great carrier oils include:

  • Avocado Oil: great for dry flaky skin
  • Coconut Oil: great for making body butters. 
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil: fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil that has had the lauric acid removed in order to stay liquid during cold temperatures. 
  • Sweet Almond Oil: nourishes the skin and is great for babies. However, do watch out for itchy skin. My skin get a little sensitive with it. 

Third, the best essential oils for children are lavender, Roman chamomile and Sandalwood. doTerra also has wonderful pre-made essential oil blends called Calming Blend and Grounding Blend, which are great to diffuse in your child's room. 

Finally, the best way to make sure that you are using essential oils safely on children is to first use the essential oils on yourself. Make sure you read the labels and instructions carefully. Educate yourself on a specific essential oil before applying it on your child. 

Safety First: It is important to consult with your child's doctor about any specific health issue before using essential oils on your child. Also, if your child drinks essential oils on accident, call Poison Control 1-800-222-1222. Some of these essential oils can cause lots of harm and in some cases even be deadly when used improperly.

Check out next week's blog post on 5 Essential Oils Tips for Children.

Eat the Rainbow

The thought of eating the rainbow can be difficult to think of. I mean, how do you eat the rainbow throughout the day? Not to mention that putting together a meal can be very confusing because of all the information that is out there. Some people say to load up of animal protein, others on greens. However, many nutritionists, medical doctors and registered dietitians nutritionists agree that it is important to eat the rainbow. This means, to eat foods of all colors and not just stick to one color. All foods that come from the earth have something very special to offer. 

Red Foods
About 74% of Americans don't eat enough red foods. Red foods help DNA health, protects against heart disease and cancer, supports your urinary tract and prostate. Red foods are full of antioxidants and help strengthen your immune system. Red foods can be found in berries, red fruits and vegetables and red beans. You can eat a cup of berries as a snack or as part of an afternoon smoothie. 

Orange and Yellow Foods
About 80% of Americans don't eat enough orange and yellow foods. Orange and yellow foods support your vision, strengthen your immunity system and are part of your overall health, growth and development. They are also full of antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system. Yellow and orange foods include pineapples, potatoes, corn, yellow zucchini, bananas, oranges, persimmons all of which are easy to include in your daily meals by mixing them up. You can add a banana and pineapples to your smoothie or eat oranges and carrots as a snack.

Green Foods

About 69% of Americans don't eat enough green foods. Greens help support our eyes, liver, clean out our arteries, cell turnover, promotes gum health and wound healing as well as keeps our bones strong, improve body odor, help speed up healing process. These are foods like spinach, kale, lettuce. You can make green smoothies as well as salads with these foods. We should eat 1 cup of cruciferous greens like broccoli, arugula or kale and 2 cups of leafy greens like romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce or red lettuce. This will help us get all the quality greens in our system. You get all of your daily greens in my Fountain of Youth Smoothie.

Blue, Violet and Black Foods
About 79% of Americans don't eat enough blue, violet or black foods. These darker colored foods help support our brain, bones, heart and artery health. They also are full of antioxidants and help boost our memory and help protect us against cancer. These foods include black beans, berries and eggplant. You can make dinner meals with black beans or include blueberries and black berries into your smoothie.

White and Brown Foods
White foods are easy to overlook and or be overeaten. White foods foods are great anticancer and anti-inflammatory foods. They also support your immune system, help lower blood pressure and help control your cholesterol. These are foods like grains, nuts, soy and mushrooms. You can make dinner meals with these foods. They should never be overlooked or seen as bad foods. Eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of nut butter and 2 to 3 cups of a whole grain. 

Eating the rainbow and getting foods from different categories will help you get a well balanced diet as well as optimum health.

Resources

  1. Greger, M. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York, NY: Flatiron Books.
  2. Hever, J. (2014). The Vegiterranean Diet. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
  3. Olien, D. Superlife: The 5 simple fixes that will make you healthy, fit and eternally awesome. New York, NY: Harper Wave.
  4. Talib, N. (2016). Younger Skin Starts in the Gut: 4-week program to identify and eliminate your skin-aging triggers - gluten, wine, dairy and sugar. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.